Water Resources:

Corps Lacks Authority for Water Supply Contracts

RCED-91-151: Published: Aug 20, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 20, 1991.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO examined whether the Army Corps of Engineers has the legislative authority to operate nine water reservoirs for the purposes for which they are being managed.

GAO found that: (1) with one exception, the Corps has the authority to operate the nine reservoirs for the purposes for which they are being managed; (2) in that exception, the Corps improperly cited the Water Supply Act of 1958 in reallocating storage capacity to municipal and industrial (M&I) water supply and entering into six long-term contracts to supply water to M&I users without expanding those reservoirs; (3) the authority under the Water Supply Act to supply water for M&I needs is limited to what may be accomplished through the construction or expansion of reservoirs, and the act does not provide authority to reallocate existing water storage capacity for M&I purposes at reservoirs previously constructed or modified; and (4) the Corps used the act to enter into 38 water supply contracts and was planning to enter into similar contracts in the future.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense disagreed with the report's findings and recommendation. Congress has not acted on the recommendation.

    Matter: Congress should remove any supposed lack of clarity by amending the Water Supply Act to expressly prohibit the reallocation of existing water storage capacity under the act unless accompanied by the construction or expansion of reservoir storage capacity. Alternatively, if Congress wants to allow the Corps to reallocate existing storage capacity, Congress should: (1) amend the Water Supply Act to provide the Corps with this authority; or (2) add M&I water supply as a project purpose or approve specific M&I water supply contracts on a case-by-case basis at individual reservoirs.


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